Nissan’s flagship launches CVT wave
With a few tweaks and upgrades, Nissan has freshened its full-size Maxima sedan for 2007.
While its Altima little brother is all-new, the Maxi’s ‘07 update is more a mid-life makeover, with an exterior freshening and upgraded interior. It also tilts the sport/luxury blend further toward the luxury end of the spectrum.
Outside, the front bumper has been completely reworked. The fog lights are bigger and the whole body shape looks much more angular and sharp.
Now in its sixth generation, the biggest changes to hit the company flagship are under the hood. Much to the disappointment of driving enthusiasts, the manual transmission has been completely dropped. Only one gearbox is available on the sedan and that is a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Dropping the CVT into the Maxima is part of Nissan’s goal to have all its sedans equipped with this type of transmission in the next several years.
It also wants to sell one million CVT-equipped cars next year (globally).
After driving a Maxima fitted with the new transmission, you see why it’s changing over. Nissan says gear changes are 30 per cent faster, but, in a seat-of-the pants sense, it feels 300 per cent quicker. This is all thanks to new technology in the latest Xtronic generation of transmissions.
Luckily, this doesn’t mean acceleration will sound constant (as it does in some CVT-equipped vehicles). Want to shift gears by yourself? You still can, and the response from the time you flick the lever up or down to the point where the CVT actually “changes” gears is not glacial. In fact, it’s so fast as to feel almost supersonic. The new transmission is also supposed to be better for the environment. In fact, Nissan claims five vehicles fitted with CVTs produce the same CO2 emissions as one hybrid gas-electric vehicle.
The brawny 3.5-litre V6 carries over unchanged, though new industry measurement standards mean it’s down 10 horses to 255 horsepower.
Inside the Maxima, the centre stack is slightly revised, real aluminum is used as trim accents and the seats can more comfortably accommodate “larger” people.
Inside, things haven’t changed much. The centre stack is slightly revised, real aluminum is now used as trim accents, and the seats can more comfortably accommodate “larger” people.
Like Nissan’s Quest minivan, the Maxima now features an iPod/MP3 player jack, a tire pressure monitoring system, and keyless entry. If you order leather seats, Bluetooth hands-free compatibility is added to the audio system. The Maxima’s unique SjyView glass sunroof is standard, and you can still choose between a three-person split/folding rear bench seat or two fixed, heated rear bucket seats. The SE models (5- or 4-seat) have a sport-tuned suspension while the 5-seat SL version is biased more toward comfort and a plusher ride.
Prices start at $36,998 for the base 3.5 SE. Shell out $42,498 and you lose a seat in the back but gain a rear centre console, rear sunshade and rear heated seats, among other features. The luxury-oriented 3.5 SL, with 17-inch alloy wheels, goes for $41,498.
2007 Nissan Maxima